Panama beats El Salvador on penalties in wild affair, to face USA in semis

Panama El Salvador 2 (Getty Images)



WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. men's national team will face Panama in the Gold Cup once again.

After playing to a 1-1 draw through 120 minutes, Panama defeated El Salvador, 5-3, on penalty kicks in a crazy second game of Sunday night's quarterfinals doubleheader in front of a rowdy pro-El Salvador crowd at RFK Stadium.

Rodolfo Zelaya shook off missing a first-half penalty kick by converting a spot kick in the 78th minute. The Cuscatlecos would not hold on, however, as Luis Tejada knocked in a controversial goal in the waning moments of the match. It was tough to tell if the ball had crossed the goal-line in its entirety, but it was ruled a goal.

The two teams finished the wild and open affair with 10 men after Panama's Blas Perez and El Salvador captain Luis Anaya were sent off following the end of regulation. That made things even wilder in the 30 minutes of overtime, as both teams found plenty of space and chances. The most notable came in the dying seconds of the game when El Salvador defender Steve Purdy failed to pull the trigger on a shot from close range.

Following the game, both of the team's head coaches signaled out referee Walter Quesada's officiating, and not for good reasons.

"If we're going to talk about officiating, because, honestly, I didn't want to say anything, but it was very suspicious. Very suspicious," Panama coach Julio Cesar Dely Valdes said in a stern tone. "I didn't want to talk about the ref, but he was calling more for El Salvador than us. The (first) penalty kick to El Salvador was nonexistent, even the blind man in the upper stands could see it."

El Salvador coach Ruben Israel didn't seem as angry about the officiating, although he did claim that the last-gasp goal Panama scored was a "human error'. 

"That's soccer. Referees make mistakes just like us coaches make mistakes," said Israel. "But it was a crucial error."

Voted Man of the Match by the media who attended the game, Zelaya agreed with his coach during the press conference. Along with also saying he'd be open to playing in MLS should the opportunity ever arise, Zelaya concurred with his coach when he said that El Salvador is disappointed with the loss but that the tournament as a whole was something to be proud of.

Valdes was also proud of his team, stating it had accomplished one of its goals by making it to the semifinals. Valdes was later asked how confident he was in Panama beating the United States for a second time this tournament, and he answered by saying he expects a different game.

"To be honest, we know it will be a different (U.S.) team," said Valdes. "We know it won't be easy."


Here are highlight's from the game:



What do you think of Panama's win over El Salvador? Think the officiating was bad? Do you see the United States beating Panama?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in CONCACAF Gold Cup, International Soccer. Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to Panama beats El Salvador on penalties in wild affair, to face USA in semis

  1. Jose says:

    Wonder which USA we will see against Panama. I hope it is for the team that came out against Jamaica or better.

  2. dcm says:

    so panama’s most dangerous player will miss the rematch against the US on wednesday, unfortunate.

  3. Eurosnob says:

    The US is also likely to miss their leading goal scorer, Altidore, so it is a wash. However, Panama is at a disadvantage because they had to play an overtime with a short turn around between games.

  4. AP says:

    No mention of the U-17 impressive performance on the site at all?? A little disappointed. I do like Cabrera’s style especially the huddle after the game.

  5. Bryan says:

    How much diving can two teams actually do in one match?

  6. Rory McIlroy says:

    Figures the Europunk would come to the party with mommy in tow. Freddy part Deux has just as many bulges of the ol onion bag as Clint does. That would and should be the least of Van Halen’s problems on Wednesday. They’re gonna be playing one pissed off pack of cats. Even if they had Perez and only played 90 they’d be in deep, deep brown stuff. Tracksuit will have them fired up and with the finishing boots on…3-nil.

  7. ChrisTheLSUTiger says:

    A lot.

  8. ChrisTheLSUTiger says:

    Watching the end of those highlights was painful. Do it with the sound off.

  9. Rory says:

    Nothing about the U-17 World Cup and the US’s convincing pounding of the Czechs or the AMAZING goals the US youngsters scored (the first and third goals).

    Your slipping!

  10. fischy says:

    I have no idea what you’re talking about. Is it something to do with soccer?

  11. fischy says:

    You want painful? Try being at the game….

    The whole game was played like a n opera, but Zelaya’s performance was just plain appalling.

  12. fischy says:

    The refereeing was atrocious (isn’t it always?), but, given that amazing overhead angle replay, I have to give them some props for correctly calling Panama’s goal.

  13. Bryan says:

    Haha, was just going to say the same thing. I didn’t watch the game but I saw the highlights, some very nice goals.

  14. Brad says:

    This game was U-G-L-Y and also F-E-O. What is it about Latin American soccer players that makes them engage in such gamesmanship with falling down and rolling around in agony until they are given the foul or the other player a yellow card? The USA should run roughshod over Panama if they play like they did today…

  15. Seriously says:

    Unlike fischy I love your post. It’s entertaining and I have to agree that being down Altidore is not a big deal after seeing how we played without him today. I think Agudelo brings much needed creativity to our attack where Altidore lacks.

    I certainly hope the team has a fire lit under them as you suggest and I hope your prediction comes true.

  16. Brad says:

    After spending a lot of time in South America, I have a theory about latin american soccer players and diving and going down easily and such. I think for them, there is more glory in playing so hard and so well that the other team has to foul them horrifically than there is in getting up immediately, walking off a knock, or trying to withstand an over zealous attacker. So it’s like a “look at me, I played so hard and got hurt and I am such good player that they have to foul me to stop me” kind of thing. Also, the north american “protestant work ethic” has something to do with it too. Of course I am generalizing here…

  17. kerren says:

    Wow. I must’ve watched a different match than the media. While there was the requisite latin-nastiness from Panama (I think Tejada in particular), at least they showed up to play. El Salvador did virtually nothing but dive every time the opportunity to move the ball forward arose. I didn’t have much of an opinion about them before, but sure do now, and it ain’t good.

  18. Paul Thomas says:

    Univision had a great replay of the Panama goal, using some kind of goal-line technology. The replay showed the ball was indeed (by fractions of an inch) all the way across the goal line.

    You’d certainly have to say the better team won this one. I have no earthly idea how El Salvador was awarded two penalty kicks. The first one in particular was disgraceful.

    I had not realized Perez was sent off, though it does explain why he did not participate in the end-of-game shootout… that’s a big loss for Panama. I guess “El Matador” will have to carry the load for them.

  19. chg says:

    I wonder if everyone in El Salvador falls to the ground in agony at the slightest contact. It would make for some interesting street scenes.

  20. FSegaud says:

    Jim Rome…is that you??????

  21. nj says:

    The highlights don’t do this game any justice. This affair was wild……beers flying, people running on the field, the double sending offs at FT, salvadorian fan infighting, me getting hit with a newspaper from a salvadorian, the crazy ET, and the atmosphere. Bar none one of the wildest games I’ve ever been to, even as a US supporter

  22. I think that the US can get past Panama comfortably. Let’s be honest, they had a good first half against the US, but the US had a much better game in the second half. It took an own goal and a penalty to win. I expect a dominant performance from the US in the semi-final. They will come out wanting to prove something against Panama.

    My only concern is…will Altidore play? I thought Agudelo did well against Jamaica, but he is still green and will really be tested against Panama’s defense.

    In the end though, I think the US has a better team. People complain about the so called slow start. But as I see it, they have done well for a team in transition. There are a lot of new players getting in the mix, and there will be bad moments. But overall, I think Bob has done a good job integrating this young squad. I think the biggest area to build on is the defense. I mean…Bocanegra is up there in age, and so is Dolo.

    So I like the face the Lichaj is getting good minutes and looking pretty solid. But that center defense is a work in progress. And who is going to replace Dolo? My money is on Chandler, but who is a sub for him? We need some depth.

    I commend Bob Bradley for what he has done in this Gold Cup. He has managed to introduce new players, while still getting results. Bedoya bas been one of the better introductions, as has Lichaj and Agudelo. Can’t wait until we get Holden back in the mix.

    Anyway, I think the US has the team to win this Gold Cup, and considering that there are players left off the roster who I think can make a difference….I feel good about this team going forward. Bradley is the man for this transitional period.

    People need to understand this transitional phase and not expect the US team to be a World Beater.

  23. I think that the true soccer fan will acknowledge the success the team is having. As Michael Bradley said, “you don’t get style points for winning 5-0.” Yes, we would all like that, but I am satisfied with the team putting forth a dominant performance. How many times did Howard have to do anything? And how many shots on goal did Jamaica have? Just saying, the US has a solid team, but let’s put the team in perspective and not assume they should destroy teams. The defense has been solid, an area which was shaky in the last World Cup. They have concede two goals this tournament, an own goal, and a penalty.

  24. abc says:

    We suck Panama is totally gonna beat us again I predict a Goodson own goal on a Howard rebound and Tim Ream kicking a dude in the stomach fire Bradley!!

  25. abc says:


  26. Knowles says:

    I’ve never seen so much diving

  27. Brett says:

    lol +2

  28. Brett says:

    It’s just savvy from having played the game. You will notice that even the top clubs in the world play the game this way. It serves two purposes:

    One: A lot of goals come from restarts. If not the initial kick, then on a play that ensues down the line. So you try to draw fouls in dangerous areas in order to create scoring chances.

    Two: Refs are emotionally swayed by what they see in real time. If the ref already thinks a player goes in hard, it only takes the suggestion to tip his mind. Because of this, what a player does after “contact” can change the game. Teams with a “must win” attitude will employ acting.

    The USSF program seems to do a good job of keeping those tactics out of play. Why? I guess it is because we are an inferior footballing country and don’t want to appear unsavory as the world watches us climb the ranks. However, I have noticed that certain US players are developing these “professional” ways of influencing the ref (Dempsey, Jones, Agudelo, Bedoya, Davies…just to name a few).

    The one thing I hope never rears its ugly head with the USSF is play acting and injury faking in order to waste time. Run the clock down the old-fashioned way by kicking it around and tiring out the other team. Don’t act like your feet just got blown off by a mine or fake a paralyzing cramp in the 84th minute of a 1-0 or 2-1 game. The blood boils…

  29. DC Josh says:

    There are 40,000 Latinos with massive hangovers this morning.

    I am confident with our US squad, which has played itself out of a slump. 3-0 prediction for Wednesday night. We will peak at just the right time, playing our best soccer in the final.

  30. Ivan says:

    This game was the most entertaining one I’ve seen in a long time; awful penalty call for El Salvador; Univision showed that the ball did cross the line for the equalizer, and the better team won. What an abosrbing, fantastic game this was. Both teams went all out to win it in extra time and both came very very close to scoring that winning goal…

  31. canchon says:

    I was at the game yesterday. You should have seen the exodus of US and Jamaica fans at the half…after watching a half of that slop I don’t blame all the fans for going to the exit.

    On the first penalty, all the US/neutral fans around me were shocked. Shameful diving.

  32. Buck says:

    For me this will be a test for BB. He had no solution for Panama the first time out and didn’t really have anyone on the bench that could help either

    Since then, he has shown some encouraging signs in that he has changed what wasn’t working and the results have been positive. Since he (and everybody else) knows Panama will bunker… lets see what adjustments he makes to counter that. If he is truly evolving as a coach, he will come in with a different game plan to counter the bunker

    He also has to figure out Altadore’s replacement though the group that played against Jamaica did quite well

  33. sholata says:

    looked like a Vince McMahon invitational

  34. Grammar Police says:

    I think you meant to say “You’re slipping.” It is doubly important to use proper grammar when criticizing someone else.

  35. Grammar Police says:

    You get red carded for lack of punctuation.

  36. Roy says:

    Number 11 for Salvador was a particularly bad actor. This was more of a soap opera than a soccer game.

  37. Jon says:

    Do we go with the 4-5-1 again to make Panama adjust to something new?

  38. jose says:

    I’m one!

  39. Raymon says:

    YES! Start LD or Bedoya, I could go either way at this point. Bedoya done good yesterday.

    I’ll be in Houston (the one with the flag), for my first cap!

  40. Erik says:

    I’m surprised in all of the analysis that nobody ever mentioned during the group game that the US couldn’t even warm up on the field for the game.

    Could this be part of the slow start issues the US had?

  41. Spectra says:

    Why is everyone writing off Altidore? I thought it was just a strain? Maybe he can recover quickly?

  42. Charles says:

    Off topic

    but Warner is done at FIFA.

    Surprise FIFA drops all investigations.

  43. tricksyclown17 says:


  44. Modibo says:

    I don’t think it’s necessary for players to be coached on these tactics for them to pick them up. Watching the WC on cable in ’86, I learned a lot about embellishing falls and dangling a trailing leg for opponents to strike when tackling. Same for playing against certain other ethnic teams who were more expert in exaggeration than ours.

    Not that I ever used any of that trickery, mind you…

    I think it’s more a question of limiting the amount that certain players exaggerate. For example, what kind of feedback is Jones going to get on his dive to draw a red against Jamaica? Praise for creating an advantage, or criticism for potentially drawing a yellow?

  45. Paul Thomas says:

    From the way he looked coming off and the instantaneous signal for a sub, I doubt Altidore will be fit to play even in the final if the US wins the semis. As for Wednesday, forget about it.

    I’d expect to see the 4-2-3-1 employed again with Wondo and Agudelo basically splitting time at forward, in an effort to keep them from totally running out of gas by Saturday.

    The bang-bang-bang turnaround times of the games this week makes for some extremely interesting gamesmanship in terms of balancing getting to the finals with maximizing the odds of actually winning once the finals are reached. I like it– it’s a game theory puzzle.

  46. Paul Thomas says:

    Unfortunately, he was also by far their best player.

    So, I think we can get used to seeing more hysterical overacting every time the USA plays El Salvador in future. Man, I hope they are not placed in our group in WCQs. I’m not sure I could stand to watch the games. Just awful nonsense from them.

  47. Paul Thomas says:

    Players do not personally signal for a substitute while still on the field unless the injury is a bad one. The natural tendency is to try to walk it off and get back into things. That Altidore already knew he was done before even leaving the field suggests that the “just a strain” was nasty.

  48. Lil' Zeke says:

    True about the pack of cats, no doubt. But be careful, sometimes the best predictor of results between teams is results from a few days ago between the same teams. And if you watch a lot of sports, you’re familiar with the concept of the “team of destiny”. In this tournament, that looks more like Panama than anyone else. So don’t wager anything you can’t afford to lose.

  49. Eurosnob says:

    Seriously, like Fischy I have no idea what this dude is talking about. But I can understand you post. However, Altidor is a big loss. He has two game winning goals in this tournament and played well. Agudelo, with all his creativity, is yet to score. Agudelo is a talented young player and will contribute to the team, but losing Altidore puts a lot of pressure on Agudelo to deliver. This is not ideal for a young player like Agudelo, but I hope he does well in the next two games – the team will need big performances from him.

  50. John Don says:

    Let see if they put someone that is a soccer person and not a governer or buisness man. I want bladder to tripp and die this guy feels untouchable I bet blatter is some type of mafia/Masonic guy. I don’t know seems everyone is scare of him.

  51. Wm. says:

    We will have learned from the Panama disaster. A bright emphatic win for our boys, 2:1 in the right direction this time.

  52. Wm. says:

    For US fans, it was the best possible outcome last night during El Sal v Panama: extra time which tires out the legs, and penalty kicks which fatigue the mind.

    Our boys will be fresher and ready to make amends for an ugly loss.

  53. siriux says:

    He certainly was. I have to think Panama was tough mentally to get over the sea of Salvadorians, the diving and faking and the Costarican ref who seemed to have his mind made up about the result.

  54. aracely benitez says:

    usa usa usa usa usa 3 panama 0

  55. Joamiq says:

    Given that Jim Rome hates soccer, that comment makes 0 sense.